Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Reflections (Part 2 - Semester Two of School Year 2015-2016)

This semester was a huge step in the right direction for me as a teacher. I really went out of my comfort zone with some new apps and programs to motivate students and increase mathematical thinking. My favorite math app/program is definitely Desmos. I heard about the graphing calculator program a few years ago but just didn’t have the resources in the classroom to push using this program especially when at the time it basically did what our TI-83 calculators were capable of computing. However, later this year when I saw all kinds of great posts on Twitter from the #MTBoS group I knew I had to check it out. After doing a little research and thinking about when I could use this in my classroom I decided to start with my quadratics section in my Math 2 Honors class. My first activity builder was for the topic changing forms of quadratic functions. The awesome thing about Desmos Activity Builder is you can make a copy of someone else’s activity and edit it to fit the needs of your classroom. After testing out our first activity I realized this program is definitely going in my bag of tricks for the years to come. I can’t wait to see all the new features Desmos will come out with in the future.

Another resource I tried one time but will 100% use again is NearPod. This program is amazing!! It can be time consuming if you are a perfectionist like I can be at times. The NearPod that I created was pretty cool I’d have to say because it was a lesson on quadratics involving a game of Angry Birds, a video on YouTube, and a graphing activity through Desmos. I pretty much used every trick I had to see just how far that would take me with my students and I succeeded. My students loved every minute of the lesson and were engaged from beginning to end. This coming year I plan to create more NearPod lessons I'm just not sure if I want to use them as a recap for each unit or individual lessons.

My greatest accomplishment this past semester was trying standards based grading. I always thought this was such a hard way of grading but found it pretty simple and very informative. I was able to see exactly where each student was falling short and knew the areas in which I could help them grow. I love the idea now I just need to figure out the best way to carry it out.

A few other things I did this past semester that were a success:
  • Guided notes completely filled in except for examples (students only have to highlight important info)
  • Explain Everything (allowed my to annotate over top of my guided notes & save as pdf files)
  • Google doc (contains links to all course materials - notes, practice, quiz, test)
  • Organized notebook with tabs & guided notes
  • Card sorts (quadratics & exponential/logarithmic sections)
  • Use whiteboard & dry erase markers
  • Square roots with the number line (clothesline) activity
  • Human box-whisker plot
  • Whiteboard templates (quadratic formula/completing the square/factoring trinomials)
  • Jinga Review

Things I learned from semester two:

  • I still need work on differentiation in my classroom
  • Desmos is a great mathematical tool (must use frequently)
  • NearPod is a great app to keep students on track with where you are in the lesson & formative assessment
  • ThatQuiz is amazing for students to get immediate feedback on practice
  • Need to fix standard based grading (grade percentage & retake process)
  • Guided notes completely filled out really saves time (must change all notes this way)
  • Need to be consistent with classroom management
  • When students know they can’t be denied bathroom privileges they take advantage of you (figure out a method to help this situation or just give up & don’t care anymore - I stress out about this because I get so annoyed when I’m interrupted in the middle of the lesson)
  • Log sheet to keep up with where students go when they ask to leave room is a must keep (make them fill it out because you will not do it if you are busy or in middle of teaching)
  • Tardy forms are a must keep (need to make it a habit of getting them out of the box daily & record who was tardy for each class)
  • Do not let students be disrespectful; cut it off immediately do not second guess yourself
  • Find teachers who want to share in your journey no matter where they teach or where they live (everyone needs motivation and accountability)

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